By: Abby Keane
Anyone who knows me knows how important music is in my life. I was (and at heart, still am) a band geek. I played the trumpet throughout high school as part of the concert band, orchestra, brass quintet, and marching band. After a brief hiatus, I continued to play in college as part of a brass class and as part of the pep band that played at basketball and hockey games. I love to play music, and I love to listen to music. When I was pregnant with Finn, I knew that a love for music was something I wanted to instill in him. I played all sorts of music for him, often loudly in my car during my 50 minute commute. I laughed when I could feel him dancing, and wondered if he would recognize any songs once he was born.
Well, I’m not sure that there are any songs he really recognizes from his time in utero, but he certainly loves music. He starts dancing whenever he hears music, and occasionally, I’ll catch him singing. He has certain songs that he requests that we sing all of the time. I keep my iPod and speakers in the kitchen and Finn is forever asking if I can turn the music on, especially during meals. He has certain songs he has to listen to with his Gramma and Grampa, and certain songs he listens to with his Nanny and BopBop, and he has to listen to them every time he is at their houses. His favorite show on television is the “Fresh Beat Band”, a kids’ show about four teens who love music and go to music school together. Each episode has a few standard songs that show up every episode, as well as a few songs that change from one episode to the next. By far, though, the one thing that has truly encouraged his love of music is our music class.
When Finn was about nine months old, I enrolled him in our local Old Colony Music Together Class. I heard about it from some of my (band geek) friends on Facebook who had been bringing their children. I started the class more because I wanted Finn to socialize with other kids, and I hoped to find a few “mom” friends. I have continued to go since then because Finn absolutely loves his time there, and loves the music it brings into his life.
From their website, “Music Together is an internationally recognized early childhood music program for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners, and the adults who love them. First offered to the public in 1987, it pioneered the concept of a research based, developmentally appropriate early childhood music curriculum that strongly emphasizes and facilitates adult involvement. Music Together classes are based on the recognition that all children are musical.” Each 10-week session of music together has a different theme – sticks, maracas, flute, to name just a few. There is a “hello” song and a “goodbye” song that stay the same session to session, otherwise, it’s new material from one session to the next. Each family gets a songbook, and two copies of a CD which includes all the songs from that session – one CD for the car, one for at home. The shortened (6 week) summer session features favorites collected from each session. The Holiday session (3 weeks) features some holiday standards, as well as some original songs that encompass all of the holidays. For 45 minutes every week, Finn and I would sing and dance, and just be silly in a musical way. We would play instruments, and Finn would climb in the instrument box. We would shake colorful streamers, bounce balls, swing hula hoops, and (theoretically) rest on a pillow…all set to music!
From the beginning, Finn had favorite songs. After our very first class, I kept forgetting to put our CD in the car. On our drive home after I got out of work one day, he had started crying. I could only remember the words to one song from class – “Tingalayo.” It’s all about a donkey, and has silly rhymes. Well, sure enough, Finn stopped crying. And for months after that, “Tingalayo” never failed to stop Finn in his tracks and make him smile and dance. I kept forgetting to put the CD in my car, and I sang Tingalayo so many times…well, let’s just say I have no love for that donkey anymore! My bad memory is probably what created that favorite, but since that first session, Finn has picked his favorites all on his own. He will ask for them over and over, and many have special conditions. I made the mistake a few months ago of putting a Mr. PotatoHead mustache up to my face and singing one of his favorites in a deep, gruff voice…every time we play with Mr. PotatoHead now, I have to hold the mustache and sing the song in a deep, gruff voice!
Old Colony Music Together gave us everything I was looking for – Finn was able to socialize with kids his own age, I was able to socialize with other Moms, and he learned a bit about music. The love of music that has blossomed in him throughout the class was something I hoped for, but certainly wasn’t sure would happen. I took the most recent session off, as it started less than two weeks after Eamon was born, and the thought of trying to get the two of them to class with all of us fed, dressed, and in one piece was more than I could manage. We will be back at the next session though, and I cannot wait to see Eamon’s reaction, not to mention Finn’s excitement at returning. Whether you are musical or not, I highly recommend trying out a music class with your child – you never know what it will inspire in them!
P.S. Be sure to come back for my next blog entry when I’ll tell you all about my childcare search and how it’s turning out…we’re not quite through yet, and I don’t want to jinx anything! I’ll also have a list of helpful questions when looking for childcare.